You know how John McCain has been struggling all year to live down his comment from 2000 that leaders of the “religious right” were “agents of intolerance”? In my mind, I sort of imagined that as a “gaffe,” a quick accidential one liner that slipped out in the heat of battle. But I recently came upon the full quote. Fascinating. This was a carefully thought out, well-prepared attack.

I recognize and celebrate that our country is founded upon Judeo- Christian values, and I have pledged my life to defend America and all her values, the values that have made us the noblest experiment in history. But public — but political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value.

The political tactics of division and slander are not our values, they are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.
Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

Click there for the full speech.
This helps one understand why some religious conservative leaders have had a hard time warming to McCain.

More from Beliefnet and our partners